Friday, February 20, 1998

Rebecca Cohen

My love of stories well-told comes from my family where no incident was too small to make a good story. My father, a Danish immigrant, raised me on Hans Christian Andersen. My mother, an elementary school teacher, read to me daily until I could read for myself. With no television, we were always sharing our reading aloud. These roots gave me the background to develop the skills necessary for carrying on the oral tradition.

My career is that of a children's librarian, but my avocation is storytelling. With story well told, history, values, and consciousness are passed on in such a way that they remain available for use when needed. In my work with children, stories told orally prove invaluable for developing listening and cognitive skills, which are the foundation of speech and reading.

The stories I will tell in Yachats are from the Yakonan-speaking people who once lived on this coast between Heceta Head and Cascade Head. The stories were written verbatim from tellings by Alsea George and William Smith. Both men were very old at the time and the Yakonan language was from their childhood. The written works are often repetitive and rambling. What I have done is make these stories "listenable" for the current generation of Lincoln County dwellers. I do this work with the permission of Siletz tribal members and money I receive from these tellings will be used to enhance the tribal library.
A Lincoln County native, Rebecca Cohen has been telling stories in the oral tradition for over 20 years. She currently works as a Youth Services Librarian at the Newport Public Library.

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